Worth Watching: Ali and X as ‘Blood Brothers,’ Jon Stewart Fights for ‘Responders,’ Gangland ‘Kin,’ Michael Strahan’s Evolution
A Netflix documentary explores the tight but fragile bond between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X. Leading a new batch of 9/11-related programming is a discovery+ special about the crusade of activists including Jon Stewart to get health benefits for 9/11 first responders. Kin is an eight-part Irish drama about a crime family going to war against a drug cartel. More Than an Athlete profiles Michael Strahan’s evolution from NFL hall-of-famer to broadcaster and businessman.
The fierce but fraught 1960’s friendship of the rising-star Olympian boxer and the revolutionary activist is explored in a documentary produced by Kenya Barris (black-ish). Also a subplot in Ken Burns’ upcoming Muhammad Ali documentary (Sept. 19-22 on PBS), their bond (dramatized in the recent movie One Night in Miami) is recalled by Malcolm X’s daughter and Ali’s brother and daughters in new interviews. This brotherhood, strengthened after Ali made the controversial decision to embrace Islam and change his name from Cassius Clay, later frayed when political division within the Nation of Islam left Ali taking sides and choosing to stand by his mentor and Malcolm’s rival, Elijah Muhammad. Ali would regret this estrangement in later years.
Daredevil’s Charlie Cox leads an impressive cast in writer/producer Peter McKenna’s bloody gangland drama about the Kinsellas of Dublin, a crime clan outgunned but unbowed as they wage war against a cartel. In the first of eight weekly episodes, ex-con Michael Kinsella (Cox) hopes to go legit once out of prison, but he’s drawn back into violent family intrigue when drug kingpin Eamon Cunningham (Game of Thrones’ Ciaran Hinds) targets one of his kin.
Who’s having a more robust post-gridiron TV career than Michael Strahan? Co-hosting Good Morning America, hosting $100,000 Pyramid in prime time, leveraging his 15-year Hall of Fame NFL career as a Fox NFL Sunday analyst, this athlete-turned-businessman is seemingly everywhere. Including as the subject of Athlete’s second season, which over four episodes (dropping weekly) profiles the indefatigable TV personality on his high-profile journey.
The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart is deadly serious in this documentary that follows his crusade, with fellow activist John Feal’s The FealGood Foundation and FDNY’s Ray Pfeifer, to lobby Congress to fight for health-care benefits and compensation for the first responders who exposed themselves to life-threatening toxins during rescue and recovery efforts at Ground Zero. Filmed over five years, the special features harrowing and moving testimony from heroes facing illness and financial ruin.
More 9/11 programming:
- The 26th Street Garage: The FBI’s Untold Story (streaming on Paramount+): Blue Bloods’ Tom Selleck narrates this account of how the FBI was forced to relocate its New York headquarters on that fateful day, setting up a new command center in their parking garage. From there, they embarked on one of their most important counter-terrorism investigations to get to the bottom of this tragedy.
- Long Island Medium: In Memory of 9/11 (10/9c, TLC): Theresa Caputo visits the sites of the terrorist attacks, meeting with families of those killed in the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and aboard Flight 93 to try to bring some peace and closure from beyond.
Inside Thursday TV:
- NFL Kickoff (7/6c, 4 PT, NBC): Let the games begin, as defending Super Bowl champs Tampa Bay Buccaneers welcome the Dallas Cowboys. (The actual game kickoff is at 8:20 pm/ET.)
- CBS Fall Preview (9/8c, CBS): B Positive star and Tony winner Annaleigh Ashford (who can also be seen as Paula Jones in FX’s Impeachment: American Crime Story) kicks off the network’s season preview in high style, performing in an opening number alongside CBS talent including Beth Behrs and Max Greenfield (The Neighborhood), Iain Armitage and Annie Potts (Young Sheldon), Folake Olowofoyeku (Bob Hearts Abishola), Let’s Make a Deal’s Wayne Brady and The Talk’s Amanda Kloots (who’s heading to Dancing with the Stars). Clips and behind-the-scenes footage from new and returning series will be shown.
- What We Do in the Shadows (10/9c, FX): The Sopranos’ Aida Turturro guests as Nandor’s (Kayvan Novak) long-time flame Gail, who even after 40 years refuses to let him turn her. Seems there’s a reason for that.
- True Crime Story: It Couldn’t Happen Here (10/9c, SundanceTV, also streaming on AMC+): Hilarie Burton Morgan hosts a docuseries that visits small towns where bad things happened, starting with Adel, Georgia, scene of a brutal robbery homicide more than 20 years ago. An outsider was quickly pegged as the killer, but was an innocent man railroaded?
- Frogger (streaming on Peacock): The NBC-branded streamer is all in on family-oriented game shows with three premieres, including an epic live-action version of the popular video game, hosted by Damon Wayans Jr. and Good Morning Football’s Kyle Brandt. Also streaming: Top Chef Family Style, a spinoff hosted by Grammy winner Meghan Trainor, where young kitchen prodigies team with an adult family member in heated food challenges. And American Ninja Warrior Junior returns with top young elite athletes navigating an extreme obstacle course. Matt Iseman and Akbar Gbajabiamila are the hosts.
- All the Queen’s Men (streaming on BET+): Eva Marcille (The Young and the Restless) stars in this juicy series from Tyler Perry Studios as “Madam” Marilyn DeVille, who operates a high-end male strip club and will do anything to stay on top. All 10 episodes are available for binge-watching.